Fifteen Shades of Grey

September 28, 2015, In: Colors

I love that I have been reprimanded by some of my readers for not posting sooner. My apologies and it won’t happen again! But, thank you for missing me. :) I have also been asked about my favorite grays. So, I questioned my judgment in following up the “Does Size Matter?” post with “Fifteen Shades of Grey.” I promise you that I really am a nice, respectable person. You try to come up with a catchy headline! I’ll try to be better in the future, I swear. Well, I don’t really swear either. You might catch me saying “Darn” here and there, but that’s about it. Truly.

My posts so far have been observations about the design industry. This post will be a reference for when you are ready to find your perfect gray. Others will be instructional, like how to test paint colors. I have a lot in my head to share and it’s going to take some time. If you are impatient to get started, call me. I’m worth my weight in gold, darn it! (That’s me, swearing.)

Revere Pewter

Okay, back to the grays. Hands down, Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, HC-172, is a favorite with designers. Even the builders who couldn’t see past “Builder’s Beige” for decades have finally woken up from a deep slumber and are specifying Revere Pewter. About time is all I have to say. Don’t get me started on all those pinky beiges we had to live with. I’ll rant about that in another post.

I have specified Pashmina, AF-100 (in the Benjamin Moore Affinity collection), several times for clients. You could call Revere Pewter a putty gray while Pashmina brings to mind the color of stone. It has a bit more depth and character.


Pashmina, AF-100

Many people think of the previous two colors as Greige (a combination of gray and beige). I get why they say that when you compare the colors to a cool gray. But a better Greige to me is Stone Hearth, BM 984; it has more of a taupe-beige undertone than the other ones.

If you want to know how “Greige” your gray is, compare it to Silver Lining, BM 2119-60. It is a gray so cool it often reads as blue on the walls.


Silver Linings, BM 2119-60

Thunder, AF-685 (again, in the Affinity collection) may very well be that perfect gray that we are all looking for. There are no obvious undertones, which is almost unheard of in the gray world. It looks like Greige on the paint chip, but it is a pure, soft gray on the walls. For deeper, medium toned, warm grays check out Meditation, AF-395 and Rockport Gray, HC-105. All colors in this post are from Benjamin Moore, by the way. It is the designer’s go-to color deck of choice, and the one I am most comfortable with.

Walls and island cabinets are Thunder, AF-685.

Walls and island cabinets; Thunder, AF-685.

If you are looking for an even deeper gray, try Chelsea Gray, HC-168. It is a sophisticated, dark, warm gray.

Chelsea Gray

Chelsea Gray, HC-168

And, if you want an almost-black gray with depth and warmth, I have recently fallen for Dragon’s Breath, BM-1547. It is a very deep gray with brown undertones. For a softer, rich and luscious gray with obvious brown undertones, try Kingsport Gray, HC-86.


Kingsport Gray, HC-86

I think gray kitchen cabinetry got a real boost with this color, Fieldstone, BM-1558 It has blue/green undertones which makes it that perfect mix of warm and cool.

Fieldstone, BM-1558

Fieldstone, BM-1558

Let’s move on to the grays with blue undertones, or the cool grays. Coventry Gray, HC-169, has to top my list in this area. But Stonington Gray, HC-170, is a great contender if you want something lighter.

Coventry Gray, HC-169

Coventry Gray, HC-169

We will end with two very pale grays, Gray Owl, OC-52 and Wickham Gray HC-171. But, these colors come with a word of warning. Actually, it is going to be a mantra of mine. “Pale colors never come to life in a dark room.” Never. If you have a room with little natural light and you have no plans to install theatrical lighting, your biggest mistake will be to think you have to paint the walls a pale color. It will just look dingy. Dull and dingy. GOT IT?! In a dark room, you need to have a color with some depth to it. Pale colors need lots of light to bring out their character.

Gray Owl, OC-52

Gray Owl, OC-52

There you have it. Fifteen Shades of Grey, just like I promised. Next post, I will be on my best behavior. Maybe I’ll quote Kermit the Frog, “It’s not Easy Being Green.” Like I said, you try coming up with these headlines.




    • Denise
    • November 13, 2016

    Thank you for your comments. I have an old farm house with the orange oak trim (hate it). Recently painted revere pewter in the dining room and just finished painting Pashima in the connecting living room. I’m not sure what I think about it. My living room faces north and doesn’t have a ton of light. I want to decorate in white tones. What do you think?

    • Colette
    • September 29, 2015

    You nailed it girlfriend. I love all those grays and use them often in homes. But I am just not convinced that you never swear . . .

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Cindy Kozi

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Do you want to understand design rules and know when to break them? Know when and how to "play it safe" and still keep a playful joy in your home? Realize what's in, what's out, what's trendy or timeless? How to pick colors? And, my personal quest, how to bridge the gap between high style and comfort! Come along on this journey with me as I explore what's happening in the world of home design while I give you easy to follow guidelines.


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